“Madam, is Your Majesty willing to take the Oath?” Lucas Jarrett asked, holding a large heavy book. He wore a simple but formal black suit and a black bow tie.
“I am willing,” Valerie answered.
Lucas handed the book to her before proceeding with the oath. “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of your region with power, according to the New World Council and its rising laws and customs?”
“I solemnly promise to do so.”
“Will you, to your ability, cause law and justice to be executed in all your judgments?”
Valerie continued to swear her allegiance to the New World Council, to vote diplomatically and carry forth all tasks agreed upon by the Council; the penalty of noncompliance being suspension, expulsion, and reprimand up to and including the penalty of death. She agreed to the oath in front of the hateful crowd and tried her hardest to not focus on her image displayed on the large monitors hanging above Lucas.
Then Lucas paused and smiled, the next line dripped from his curled smile, “Do you swear to your bloodline that your children, should they be DiaZem, will be promised to and inducted into the Council at birth and sent to their own ruling city upon coming of age?”
The blood left Valerie’s face. She had never considered the child she carried was a DiaZem. Lucas knew. Valerie had become ill because her daughter’s genetics were killing her. The opposite charges given off by August and Lucas made her pregnancy viable. She could not escape Lucas Jarrett even if she had the opportunity. If she left, her body would reject the growing baby. She and her daughter had the same magnetic charge. Lucas knew this, too. Her own life depended on the man standing before her. He had far more power over her than she ever imagined.
With her mouth dry and tears welling, she said, “I swear it shall be.”
“Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain and protect the bloodline of those in your charge? Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the DiaZem bloodline for future ruling generations? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the genetically superior and the discipline and government thereof, as established by the law of the World Council?”
She went on, no longer hearing the words she swore to, “All this I promise to do.”
Valerie kneeled on the step and Lucas relieved her of the book.
“The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So, help me.”
Lucas extended his hand to her. Helping her up, he guided her to stand next to him on the platform.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you, your Queen DiaZem, Valerie Burton.”
A soft, obligated applause met Lucas’ announcement. The crowd dispersed. Lucas placed her hand on the inside of his elbow to escort her across the platform. She looked over her shoulder at Hyka, who nodded and took Caleb’s hand from his grandfather’s. She whispered something in the boy’s ear, and his face lit up in agreement as they left the grand room. Jack followed.
“Why was my father present? I don’t want him here.” Valerie asked, hoping he would not bring up her pregnancy again. She needed time to process the realization. Anger was a good distraction.
“Mike Burton is far more loyal to you than he is to me. He stole Janice from my program, even knowing they couldn’t run forever. He tried to hide her, you, and your brother, not knowing the military was mine as well. He hates me as much as you do, if not more. And where you might think I am heartless, I can appreciate his stance. And above all else, I don’t give a shit what you want. If I can find one more thing to break your spirit or make you cry, by all means, you can bet I will make it happen.”
“When are you going to tell them you killed their families?” Valerie asked, raising her voice so anyone lingering in the grand hall could hear. She could play his game. She was determined to fight. Knowing the truth to his lie was the only angle she had over him.
A few spectators nearby turned at her pointed question. Lucas’ grip on her hand tightened in anger. His brow creased and his face turned red. He led her to a door just off the central platform. In the dark, she could not tell what the room was.
Lucas slammed her body against a wall, and then slammed his weight into her. He yanked her cape apart with both hands, breaking the clasp, which held it together in the front. The bulky material fell from her shoulders to the ground.
She screamed out into the darkness of the tiny room, hoping an eavesdropper could hear her. Before she could scream again, he placed his forearm over her throat and leaned in, cutting off her voice and her air. She searched the room for energy and found a security came...